The first series of BBC1’s Blandings came to an end yesterday… in much the same way that it began, with plenty of broad buffoonery, occasionally grotesque imagery*, and a few mildly amusing moments scattered sparsely throughout.
Blandings Castle served as the setting for eleven novels and nine short stories by the humorist P. G. Wodehouse, and I have fond memories of a feature-length adaptation the Beeb put together back in 1995, starring Peter O’Toole as the permanently befuddled ‘Lord Emsworth’. So this latest effort had a lot to live up to, and I’m afraid it fell far short of my expectations. Having not read the original books, I can’t say how faithful this iteration was… all I know is that I was never in any particular rush to watch my recording of the latest episode.
On the plus side, I thought Jennifer Saunders did a great job as ‘Lady Constance’, a daunting dowager with an acidic tongue… in fact her withering insults and threats were the most consistently chuckle-worthy aspect of the show for me. The later eps also boasted cameos by Paloma Faith, as a ditsy showgirl with a total ignorance of life outside the city (ep 1.4.), and Jessica Hynes as ‘Lady Littlewood’, a disingenuous gold-digger with a snotty son (ep 1.6). Faith in particular took to the material like a duck to water, and made me wish there were some way to clone her, so that one twin could continue acting, while the other pursued a musical career. It’s not fair (on us) to make her choose, dammit!
* E.g. ‘Freddie’s repellent, Something About Mary-esque quiff getting a stiffy every time he saw an attractive young woman… or the closing shot of the finale featuring an obese pig nibbling away at a wobbling pink blancmange. Ick.